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1968 Wharton graduate and former President Donald Trump attended Sneaker Con Philadelphia on Feb. 17. Credit: Fiona Herzog

1968 Wharton graduate and former President Donald Trump visited Philadelphia on Feb. 17 to announce a new line of Trump-branded sneakers.

Trump announced his appearance at Sneaker Con Philadelphia — which was hosted at the Pennsylvania Convention Center and describes itself as “The Greatest Sneaker Show on Earth” — on the social media platform Truth Social on Friday. Trump's gold high-top shoes with a design of the American flag, named “The Never Surrender High-Tops,” retail for $399 and sold out within hours. 

The website describes the shoes as a “collector’s item” that is “bold, gold, and tough, just like President Trump.” 

Shortly after the announcement of his attendance, Sneaker Con released a statement to vendors advising them to set up ahead of schedule with increased restrictions on prohibited items. The convention also released a statement on Instagram reaffirming its mission “to support and promote sneaker culture.”

“We are thankful and appreciative of the sneaker community, and recognize individuals who generate awareness and authentic sneaker related engagement towards our community,” the organizers wrote. 

Trump, who arrived 30 minutes later than scheduled, was greeted with a mixture of boos and cheers. He explicitly appealed to a young demographic during his speech.

“We’re going to turn this country around fast,” Trump said. “And we’re going to remember the young people, and we’re going to remember Sneaker Con.”

CIC Ventures LLC, the company owning the trademarks of the sneakers and running the platform the sneakers are sold on, wrote in the website's question and answer section that the website “is not political and has nothing to do with any political campaign.” Profits from sales on the website — including the newly announced sneakers — will not be going toward Trump's 2024 re-election campaign. 

Trump also invited an audience member wearing “Trump 2024” merchandise onto the stage. 

“My kids need you, Trump. I love this man. We need him,” the audience member, who was not identified, said. “He's a good Christian. He's a good, honest man. Go out and vote for Trump.”

Charliee Royal, a vendor at Sneaker Con, told The Daily Pennsylvanian that Trump’s attendance allowed for increased business due to the foot traffic. 

“He [Trump] allowed for more people to walk by. I’ve done other sneaker conventions, but I feel I was really successful here,” Royal said. 

Trump's business venture also drew the attention of President Joe Biden's re-election campaign. 

“Donald Trump showing up to hawk bootleg Off-Whites is the closest he’ll get to any Air Force Ones ever again for the rest of his life,” Biden-Harris 2024 Communications Director Michael Tyler said in a statement. 

One day before the convention, a New York judge ordered Trump to pay a $355 million penalty in a civil fraud case for lying about his wealth to trick investors. Trump was also barred from conducting business in New York state.